Author Archive

Sometimes we can quickly destroy UXO. But bombs found within a village take extensive planning.

April 2, 2016
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Sometimes we can quickly destroy UXO.  But bombs found within a village take extensive planning.

In an effort to help our supporters understand why our thirteen-person team could not immediately “render safe” the 750 bomb that we identified in a village, I’ve compiled a list of the steps that staff must follow when assisting a village that is threatened by such a destructive device. Ten years ago I was...
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“Mr. Magnet” was a rarity: a self-trained, self-proclaimed village bomb expert who gave his trade a good name.

March 31, 2016
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“Mr. Magnet” was a rarity: a self-trained, self-proclaimed village bomb expert who gave his trade a good name.

Most provinces in Laos are underserved by humanitarian clearance organizations. Given the rate at which unexploded ordnance (UXO) is being rendered safe the bombs, rockets, motors, bullets and shells that blight 2,500 villages here will outlive every human now living on our planet. But…in the nine select provinces that currently receive funding…deminers are making...
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Three Different Sites. Three Different Challenges.

February 5, 2016
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Three Different Sites.  Three Different Challenges.

Three days in the field and each day a different challenge. I keep telling myself, “If this job was easy, what would they need us for?” The first day, we might as well have been working on a paved parking lot. The landowner, in the recent past, was either coerced or given the opportunity...
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On A Cold Day, To Keep Myself Moving, I Check Hundreds Of Tree Stumps For UXO. Guess What I Found?

February 2, 2016
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On A Cold Day, To Keep Myself Moving, I Check Hundreds Of Tree Stumps For UXO.  Guess What I Found?

Today is the coldest, windiest day yet. The guys are all bundled up in their warmest gear; some wearing ski masks. I’ve got to investigate why two or three of the fellows are working in just shirtsleeves. If they owned warmer clothing they’d be wearing it. If, as I suspect, they lack warmer garments...
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President Obama Pledges Support For Increased Help To Laos But, Will Long-neglected Provinces Get Help? They’ve Waited Over Forty Years

January 31, 2016
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President Obama Pledges Support For Increased Help To Laos But, Will Long-neglected Provinces Get Help? They’ve Waited Over Forty Years

We Help War Victims, Inc. is calling for the US State Department Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement to advocate that future US funding be distributed in a manner that benefits all contaminated provinces. Here’s a map showing the pattern of bombing in Phongsali Province. Yet, this province has never been approved to receive...
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Twenty-thousand killed or injured but millions live with fear.

January 27, 2016
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Twenty-thousand killed or injured but millions live with fear.

There have been over 20,000 civilian casualties to leftover ordnance in Laos, since the war ended forty years ago. But the most debilitating injury inflicted on the nation as a whole is the fear that affects individual and collective decision-making. Twenty thousand men, women and children have lost lives and limbs but millions fear...
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Women’s Day in Laos: Our interview with four female deminers who have put their lives at risk to keep others safe!

March 8, 2015
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Women’s Day in Laos: Our interview with four  female deminers who have put their lives at risk to keep others safe!

Interview with four female deminers: Kik, Davine, Omphon and Nuey Conducted in Phongsali Province, March, 2011 Yai Please introduce yourself. Davine: Good morning. My name is Davine. I come from Ban Houayho village. I am 19 years old. I have four brothers and sisters. I am the oldest. Yai: What Province? Davine: Champasack Province,...
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We lose patience waiting for someone else to destroy a dangerous piece of ordnance.

March 3, 2015
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We lose patience waiting for someone else to destroy a dangerous piece of ordnance.

Several years back I watched child scrap collectors use rudimentary metal detectors to search for bomb fragments that they could sell to garner spending money. The kids’ behavior around unexploded ordnance was reckless and, like most youths around the world, they defined an accident as “something unfortunate that happens to other people”. After several...
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From the “Vientiane Times”: UXO clearance workers laid off.

March 2, 2015
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From the “Vientiane Times”: UXO clearance workers laid off.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Saleumsay Kommasith told the media at a meeting of the UXO trust fund steering committee on Friday that 200 of the over 1,200 employees are being laid off. [Please note that the original article stated that 500 employees would be laid off. Later, UXO/Lao stated that the correct...
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